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Hearing underway to determine fate of John Morse's recall petition

DENVER, Colo. - Colorado's Deputy Secretary of State heard arguments in a hearing challenging the sufficiency of the recall petition for Sen. John Morse on Thursday.

Catherine E. Kleinsmith filled a protest against the petition. She was backed by A Whole lot of People for John Morse -- it's the group trying to stop a recall election for Sen. Morse.

Morse was a leader in passing new gun laws restricting gun magazine sizes and requiring background checks. The state's new legislation prompted the Basic Freedom Defense Fund to push for Morse's removal from his position.

Kleinsmith's legal council called up witnesses from Colorado's Secretary of State's Office to explain the process of a recall election and how it approves a recall petition.

Opponents of the petition said it's missing a critical sentence. Colorado's constitution said there must be a line stating there will be an election of a successor. Morse's recall petition does not include that line.

"The constitution and the Colorado's statue require that there be a line on there that calls for the election of a successor," said Christy Le Lait with A Whole Lot of People for John Morse. "We think that's important. A lot of people did not know what they were signing and if that line had been on there, it could have changed minds as well."

The Basic Freedom Defense Fund is the group behind the recall petition. It collected 16,000 signatures within 60 days after the Colorado Secretary of State's office approved the petition. The group needed 7,100 valid signatures for a recall election.  It exceeded its goal by more than 3,000 signatures.

Jennifer Kerns with the Basic Freedom Defense Fund called Kleinsmith's protest a "bogus legal challenge."

"The (recall petition) form that was used in this case was issued by the Secretary of State's office. The highest election official in the land. This form has been used for eight years," said Kerns.

"This form was also used by previous secretaries of state, including a Democrat by the way, so this really isn't a republican versus democrat issue. This is just another attempt by Sen. Morse to avoid having to be accountable by his people," said Kerns.

"It's important that you follow the rules. If you're going to talk about the constitution all the time and how important it is, you should read it and understand it and its very clear that it requires that line," said La Leit.

Morse's term is up in 2014. He cannot run again for a position in the state's senate because of the state's term limits. Kern said the senator wants to keep this issue tied up in the courts as long as possible.

"Sen. Morse would like for his to drag out, he would like for this process to go to court, we are hoping that is not the case. We want to give the people their say," said Kerns.

If the deputy secretary of state decides to uphold the petition, voters could see their first recall election for a state lawmaker in Colorado's history.

El Paso County Clerk's Office estimates the recalled election would cost taxpayers $150,000.



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